Antioxidants have gotten tons of great press over the past decade. There’s a lot of good reasons for that. They are amazing catalysts for helping our bodies to manage free-radicals, which cause a lot of the damage and strain that leads to systemic inflammation. Systemic inflammation is one of the key commonalities among most of the diseases of civilization that have plagued our community over the past century or more. To make it much simpler, our press boils it down considerably, attributing long life and health to high consumption of antioxidants.
Most fruits and vegetables include anti-oxidants. We’ve all heard about and probably know how important it is to eat the rainbow, which means to choose a wide variety of fruits and vegetables in many colors. Antioxidants come in a variety of shapes, each contributing a different hue to the fruit’s or vegetable’s color. We need many different types of antioxidants to cover the many different shapes of free-radicals, which makes a lot of sense.
It’s kind of like how there are many forms of self-defense. Each type is designed for a specific body type and size as well as attack-styles. We need a variety of antioxidants to latch onto the wide variety of free-radicals that form in our bodies from stress, exercise, toxin-overload, and other lifestyle choices or experiences. Each specific type of antioxidant offers the free radical molecule exactly the right and most attractive bond, neutralizing the free-radical’s ability to cause harm. I could get into the chemistry of the process, but why complicate the matter? There are loads of studies and reports issued by some of the most respected scientific researchers and institutions you can read if molecular biology and chemistry are your thing. Just do a search on “Antioxidant chemistry.”
When you look at traditional diets–those developed before the invention of fast foods and the gas-powered engine, in some cases even before the wheel–you’ll notice they always include the widest variety of fruits and vegetables available in their native land. Our ancestors knew that variety was key to life. I love that we have a deeper scientific understanding of why we should eat the rainbow, but in all honesty I like the simplicity of recognizing that our ancestors ate the rainbow and thrived, so it’s logical to assume we can and should do so too.
Simple is terrific when we trust the source and take action. The problem is in making the connection between knowing what we should do and actually doing it. Getting 13 servings of fresh vegetables in a variety of colors into my diet can be a challenge, especially through the winter when it’s harder to grow vegetables of any color. Even mid-summer when fruits and vegetables of all colors are in abundance, it’s easy to focus just on my favs. I tend to gravitate toward what’s in-season. So, during blueberry season, I eat tons of blue fruits but not nearly as many of the other colors. Cherry season is all about the reds; Corn, the yellows; Bell Pepper, the oranges and reds; Grape, the green and purples…you get the picture. The challenge is a daily rainbow rather than a seasonal one, right?
One of the cheats I use every year is to freeze a bunch of each color. During Cherry season, for instance, I pit and freeze cherries on a tray then bag them for use in smoothies through fall and winter. I rely on u-pick farms and local, organic farms for a lot of my colors. My garden offers up some, too, like the most amazing grapes I’ve ever tasted. I always save a few of my favs, like pineapple (which, yes, I totally buy from the grocery when it’s in-season), for my shreds.
Shred weeks are sometimes super easy, but sometimes they’re really tough. I don’t always want to stop the bad habits that have started forming in my lifestyle. The truth is I kinda love hot coca and nachos! I know I should do a shred every other month. I know I always feel healthier, lighter, and more powerful after a shred. I know my body’s overall feeling much healthier since I started doing regular shreds. But somehow all that knowledge doesn’t help when I’m facing one of the tougher shed weeks.
That’s when those favs I stashed away matter most. They’re a total treat I only allow myself during shred weeks, which makes doing the shred a little easier, joyful even. Pineapple in smoothies is a treat I love but don’t get that often. It’s packed with anti-oxidants and particularly good at reducing inflammation in the digestive tract. Paired with blueberries (which I also adore!) and Ginger, Pineapple is a potent digestive healer. They’re a delicious combo, too!
We should all eat 13 servings or more of fruits and vegetables that span all the colors of the rainbow. We should all periodically do a gentle cleanse to keep our bodies and our minds on the healthiest track possible. We should all understand the reasons why we make the choices we make. Even when we don’t quite hit the mark on all those shoulds, we can treat ourselves to better health and wellness once in awhile.
Whether you’re getting started on a shred with me or on your own or you’re just looking for an easy avenue to a healthier snack or breakfast, this Purple Power Smoothie blend is a real treat – one that supports a healthier you!
Purple Power Smoothie
I use a balanced, vegan protein powder that’s low on the glycemic index. I recommend something similar so it won’t rock your blood sugar levels. Especially when you’re getting started with a shred, it’s important to keep your blood sugars fairly stable to help your body better digest and absorb nutrients as well as to avoid feeling hungry later and being tempted to cheat or binge. (Feel free to contact me for more info on the protein powder I use!)
- 1 cup pineapple
- 1 cup blueberries
- 1 Tbsp Ginger root, fresh
- 1/3 cup (2 scoops) Protein Powder
- 2 cups Organic soy milk or similar, unsweetened (Kikkoman Pearl is my fav) or similar
- Knife for cutting as needed
- Measuring cup or spoons, as needed
Blend all the ingredients and Enjoy!
- “About Free Radical Damage” by Stephanie Liou
- “Pineapple” by World’s Healthiest Foods
- “Bilberry: A True, Blue Friend” by Sue Sierralupé
- Ginger Resources on The Practical Herbalist
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